1 IN 2

1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer by age 85.
Donate now




The Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria became an incorporated body by Act of Parliament. Our first meetings were chaired by the Lord Mayor at the Melbourne Town Hall. With the economy still recovering from the Great Depression, our first public appeal raised $66,000 - equivalent to several million in today's money!

Ivy Brookes begins her term serving as our Vice President until her retirement in 1966.

A painting of Peter McCallum1946

Three deep therapy x-ray machines were bought for a new radiotherapy institute, which became the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute. Professor Peter MacCallum was elected Chair of our Medical and Scientific Committee in 1937 and went on to chair our Executive Committee, retiring in 1962.


George Frederick Carden bequeathed us a large sum to 'find the cause and cure of cancer'. It was some years before a young Australian doctor, Donald Metcalf, was offered the position as Carden Fellow. He started work in 1954.


Peter Hudson in an anti-smoking advertisementSurgeons Thomas Ackland and Victor Stone persuaded the Medical and Scientific Committee to appoint them to an editorial role. They produced 3 education pamphlets on cancer facts and common warning signs.


The American Surgeon-General declared that evidence pointed to a causal relationship between tobacco and lung cancer. From this time on, anti-smoking campaigns became a central focus.


Football legend Peter Hudson fronted an important campaign to highlight the health risks of smoking.

Dr Nigel Gray became Director and, in the words of former President, W Allan Dick, took the Cancer Council ‘from a highly respected medical charity into a cancer control enterprise affecting most Victorians'.


Warren Mitchell, Fred Parslow and Miriam Karlin appear in several entertaining anti-smoking TV advertisements. Fred Parslow's send-up of the Marlboro Man was barred by TV stations, who were receiving advertising revenue from cigarette companies.John Colebatch


Deaths from cancer of the cervix were shown to be declining, thanks to the establishment 10 years earlier of the Victorian Cytology Service and our education program to encourage regular Pap tests.


Dr John Colebatch was the first Secretary of our Victorian Cooperative Oncology Group (now referred to as our Clinical Network).


Years of intense lobbying, against strong lobbying from the tobacco industry, finally brought about the introduction of the Tobacco Act.

Photo: David White with Victorian schoolchildren


The Government made history by passing the first-ever private member's Bill to implement a ban on print advertising of tobacco and tobacco products. This meant no more cigarette advertisements in newspapers and magazines.


Relay For Life, a relay-style fundraising event, was introduced in Australia. The first, single event raised $75,000: it has now grown to include many events around Victoria and Australia and become our biggest fundraising event. See an an early Relay For Life advertisement).

2004 Professor David Hill

Professor Donald Metcalf's groundbreaking work in colony stimulating factors (CSFs) was honoured by the Cancer Council, which had supported his research for more than 50 years. At least 4 million people worldwide are estimated to have received CSFs as part of cancer treatment.


Professor David Hill, AO, Director, announced that the Cancer Council had invested $175 million in cancer research over its 70-year history. Professor Hill was also elected President of the International Union Against Cancer, a role he would fulfil in addition to Director of Cancer Council Victoria.


Doreen Akkerman AM, Director of our Cancer Information and Support Service, was made a Member of the Order of Australia on Australia Day for her work with cancer patients and their families.

After many years of advocating for change, the Cancer Council saw pubs and clubs become smoke-free venues.


Claire Oliver The Victorian government moved to strictly regulate the solarium industry after a very public campaign led by the Cancer Council and Clare Oliver. The new regulations meant solarium operators must be licensed, display health warnings and meet several strict operative laws or face substantial fines.


Our Director, Professor David Hill, was honored with an Australia Day award for his work fighting cancer in Victoria, nationally and internationally. Professor Hill would retire in 2011 after 47 years at Cancer Council Victoria.

An example of cigarette pack under new plain packaging rules2011

Todd HarperTodd Harper was appointed Chief Executive Officer and tasked with leading the organisation into a new era.

After intense lobbying from the Cancer Council and other groups, Australia looked set to be the first country in the world to adopt plain packaging of cigarettes when the Plain Packaging Bill was passed in Canberra. Subsequent challenges from big tobacco in the Hight Court were rejected, clearing the way for the legislation to be enacted.


Every single cigarette is now sold in drab coloured packets after the Federal Government’s plain packaging legislation came into effect.

The Victorian Government passes legislation to ban solariums in Victoria by the end of 2014.

The Federal Government announces the National Bowel Screening program will be expanded to include free screening for people aged 60 years of age from 2013 and those turning 70 years of age from 2015.

The McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, a joint initiative between Cancer Council Victoria and the Union for International Cancer Control is launched. The centre is a place where lawyers, legal academics and law students from around the world can connect with cancer control researchers and advocates, as well as other cancer related institutions.


SunSmart celebrates 30 years educating the community about sun protection

Victoria records the lowest levels of smoking amongst adults in Australia (13.3 percent).

SunSmart celebrates 30 years educating the community about sun protection. More than 103,000 skin cancers were prevented in Victoria between 1988 and 2003 and more than 1000 deaths averted since the Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign began.


Together with The Heart Foundation we launch the Victorian Government-funded program LiveLighter to encourage Victorians to make healthy lifestyle changes to cut their risk of cancer and heart disease.

We launch the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study to investigate the causes of cancer and other diseases by working with over 50,000 Australians. The aim is to investigate the role that our genes, lifestyle and environment play in the development of disease in the hope it will lead to breakthroughs that will enable more individualised prevention and screening to occur.


Quit Victoria celebrates its 30th anniversary

Quit Victoria celebrates its 30th anniversary. Today, 800,000+ Victorians don't smoke, which means more than half a million Victorians have or will be saved from premature death.

From 1 January, solariums are banned in Victoria following campaigning from Cancer Council over many years.

Links and Downloads
Link Summary Format Size
A history of the Cancer Council from 1936 to 1996
.pdf 278 Kb
A companion to Fighting Cancer
.pdf 720 Kb
An account of the 'witness seminar' held in late 2005
.pdf 488 Kb